Food and refreshments is an important ingredient to a successful Grad Night. Coordinate the decorations in the food areas with the Grad Night theme to make it more fun. If possible, serve one or more items that relate to the theme but be sure to provide the Grad Night favorites - pizza, subs, and sodas.
Keep the food simple. Some graduates will try new and different things, but many will not. Recognize religious and cultural differences and try to provide something for everyone.
When looking for help in providing food and food-related items, include fast-food restaurants, pizza parlors, regular restaurants, hotels, caterers, airline caterers, gourmet shops, churches and other community organizations. Many organizations are willing to donate items such as food, ice, paper products, plastic utensils, tablecloths, table skirts, and coffee makers.
Word to the Wise: Some Grad Nights report an over abundance of food at the end of the night. Don't be afraid to ask for "less" than is being offered when getting donations. Businesses appreciate thriftiness and it saves handling the food another time. If you run out of a particular food item just offer something else that is still available.
Suggestions for the Food Chairperson
- Organize a food committee. Working with the Volunteer Chairperson, recruit members to join the food committee. Maintain regular contact with volunteers to ensure budgets and schedules are met.
- Prepare food menus and quantities based on anticipated attendance figures. Consider religious and dietary restrictions when selecting the menu (such as vegetarians, etc).
- Submit a budget to the Treasurer.
- Coordinate plans with the decorations committee.
- Ensure arrangements have been made for safe transportation of the food (keep it hot or cold).
- Arrange for leftover food to be donated after the party (local community food bank).
- Assign a food volunteer to work with the Cleanup committee to help with the storage and disbursement of leftover food. Coordinate with the clean-up committee to have plastic bags, foil, plastic wrap, paper towels, etc., for packaging leftovers and clean up in food areas.
- Be flexible and prepared to alter plans. As Grad Night approaches, the number of Grad Night attendees will change as well as the number and type of donations offered by businesses.
General Serving Suggestions
- Keep it simple!!
- The graduates eat through the entire evening so make food available all night rather than only at scheduled times.
- Serve things the graduates like, not unusual or spectacular items. Pizza is reported to be the #1 favorite food! The graduates are preoccupied with fun at the Grad Night. They are not thinking about what they are eating.
- Graduates like to be able to identify what they are eating. Put small signs next to the items so they will know what it is.
- Limit the quantities of an item to avoid leftovers. When one item is gone, simply serve more of an item you still have.
- Serve finger foods in small servings so they can sample everything.
- Serve from a variety of locations to avoid congestion in one area.
- Place copies of the menu in strategic spots around the Grad Night.
- Have adult volunteers circulating throughout the Grad Night with trays of food and drink.
- Make sure there are enough refreshments. Have an assortment of drinks like sodas, sparkling cider, tropical drinks, and flavored iced teas. Offer decaf and diet sodas.
- Have lots of bottled water available.
- Don't serve drinks in an open punch bowl or set cups of drinks out unattended. This is an open invitation for an illegal substance to be introduced.
- Special coffee drinks (such as Cappuccino) can be very popular. Try to get a local coffee house to donate their cappuccino.
- Have plenty of regular and decaffeinated coffee and iced tea for the volunteers. Have an area away from the event designated for the volunteers, staff and vendors only.
- Ice cream sundaes and smoothies can be popular but freezer storage will limit how much you can have. Use small plastic glasses with vanilla ice cream and hot fudge or strawberries.
- Send food and drink trays to volunteers who are unable to leave their assigned post.
- Make sure to reserve refreshments and food for the clean-up crew.
- Large breakfasts are usually not popular. A light breakfast such as coffee, juice, and donut holes or Danish are a good idea. Some schools report that graduates enjoy individual cartons of milk along with donuts or muffins for breakfast.
Food Quantity Examples (rough estimate only)
|For 100 Graduates:|
|20 large pizzas||6- sub sandwiches|
|15 dozen cookies/brownies ||5 large fruit trays|
|5 dozen donuts||400 cans of soda|
|5 gallons milk||5 gallons Orange juice|
|200 paper plates||2 large cans nacho cheese|
|400 paper cups||5 lbs. Coffee|
|For 400 graduates:|
|30 large pizzas||100 egg rolls|
|30 dozen cookies/brownies||100 hot dogs/chili dogs|
|20 dozen donuts||120 mini tacos|
|15 gallons milk||15 large fruit trays|
|1,000 paper plates||200 2-liter soda bottles|
|2,500 paper cups||4 large cans nacho cheese, chips to match|
|8 gal. Ice cream||10 gallons fruit juice|
|10 lbs Coffee|